Sat, Jul 07, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Agency considers ban on exports of baby eels to Japan

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The Fisheries Agency is considering a ban on exports of eel fry to Japan amid increasing calls for wildlife conservation and better management of natural resources, agency officials said on Thursday.

Others, however, are pushing the agency to rethink the ban, arguing that it would compromise two-way trade between Taiwan and Japan and depress domestic eel fry prices. Eel fry are baby eels.

Agency officials said that whether or not a ban is implemented will be decided by the end of October after a comprehensive review and before the high season for eel fry begins.

The officials made the remarks after a Japanese daily newspaper reported on Thursday that Taiwan would begin banning eel fry exports to Japan in November.

The report said that Taiwan has exported some 100,000 tonnes of eel fry to Japan each year since 2001, constituting roughly 20 percent of the amount that Japan imports.

The Japanese daily said that if there were a shortage of eel fry in Taiwan and Taiwan asked Japan to make up some of the short fall, Japanese traders would reject the request.

Some Taiwanese legislators have therefore voiced their indignation at the Japanese traders' "lack of reciprocity," the report said.

Agency officials said Taiwan exported some 50,000 tonnes of eel fry to Japan between October and December last year, but Taiwan's fishery sector has kept the 40,000 tonnes that Taiwan fishermen harvested between January and February this year to be raised in Taiwan.

Unit prices of eel fry varied greatly, fluctuating between NT$16 and NT$50 per head between November 2005 and last November, the officials said.

Japan has imposed bans on eel fry exports between December and April each year.

South Korea has banned exports of eel fry according to the season and specification, while Taiwan has never placed a ban on eel fry exports.

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